Tower Club collapses: Philam-led management shuts down elite club founded by Sycip-Cuisia, members upset

A Makati-based club founded by some of the country’s richest and powerful business people is closing down, pushed to the edge of the cliff by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tower Club Inc. management led by the Philam Group allegedly “railroaded” the approval of its plan to close down the 19-year old club and end its corporate life in 16 months in a stockholders meeting Friday.

“For the past several years, the Club has been consistently accumulating net losses and the measures implemented to address its financial problems have failed to keep the Club operationally and financially viable,” management said.

With fine dining and meetings at the core of its services, management said its losses have been aggravated by the government restrictions to contain the coronavirus.

Faced with the grim prospect of accumulating more losses in the face of uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, management said it was in the “best interest of the corporation” to close down the Club’s operations, specifically the restaurant and gym,; dissolve the company by January 31, 2022 and retrench its employees, pay off its debts and dispose all of its assets.

But a Babbler said a number of Tower Club members were upset by the drastic decision taken by management to kill the Club, specifically the limited time (the decision was only reached in August) and lack of access to financial records (including lease paid to Philam) to review and validate management’s actions.

The Babbler said members questioned why management did not call a town hall meeting to discuss the Club’s financial troubles and explore alternatives, such as reduction of space and asking members for a special assessment fee just like what other exclusive clubs like Manila Club did.

Some members are particularly annoyed that the Club’s illustrious founders have not lifted a finger to save it from extinction, considering that they were the main selling point of the Club.

The Club – which described itself as a “highly-exclusive, premium business club for the country’s top executives” – was founded in 2001 by the late SGV & Co. Founder Washington Sycip and former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor and Philam boss Joey Cuisia.

Its roster of founding governors cited on the Club’s website is a who’s who of the country’s top business people such as former Finance secretaries Ramon del Rosario Jr. and Cesar Purisima, former Agriculture Secretary Cito Lorenzo, bilyonaryos Jaime Augusto and Fernando Zobel, Manny Pangilinan, Oscar Lopez, Doris Magsaysay-Ho and George Yang.

According to its website, the governors are supposed to “provide counsel, guidance, leadership and support to the club’s management in the area of events, promotions and memberships.”

The state of the Club, which occupies two floors of the Philam Tower in Makati, has deteriorated since Cuisia left the Club management a decade ago. It is currently led by Arlene May Guevara (chair) and Eric Lustre (president).

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